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Suzhou Gardens Museum

Suzhou Gardens Museum
The Lion Forest.

Suzhou is known as a Garden City. As the saying goes, 'The gardens south of the river are first under heaven, while those of Suzhou are the crowning achievement of those south of the river.' These exquisite gardens are the ultimate expression of China's ancient architecture and arts, and they are the distillation of the cultural history of the famous city of Suzhou.

Zhuozheng Garden.
Zhuozheng Garden.

The marvelous quality of Suzhou's gardens lies in the fact that they use a tiny amount of land to realize the creative abilities of the craftsman. The twists and turns allow a new view at every step and allow the revelation of microcosms of gardens within gardens and macrocosms of views outside of views. When you walk into a garden you suddenly put yourself in a painting. Among the many gardens, four have been declared the masterpieces: these are the Canglang Pavilion of the Song dynasty, the Lion Forest of the Yuan dynasty, the Zhuozheng Garden of the Ming dynasty, and the Liu Yuan of the Qing dynasty. These represent the artistic styles of their respective dynasties.

In order to commemorate the 2,500"' anniversary year of Suzhou, a Gardens Museum was established inside the Zhuozheng Garden. Its buildings use the former residential structures of the garden. The southern part of the museum adjoins Northeast Street; the north is connected to the flower gardens of the Zhuozheng Garden. The whole covers 1,696 square meters, with an architectural space of 1,350 square meters. The exhibitions in this museum mainly introduce the history of Suzhou's ancient gardens, plus their current conditions and the technology of building gardens. There are four exhibition halls.

The Lingering Garden in Suzhou
The Lingering Garden in Suzhou

The first describes the objective reasons for basing such superlative gardens in Suzhou: the preconditions, including mountains and rivers, the ancient history, the flourishing economy, the confluence of peoples and the many generations of skilled artisans.

The second describes the history of the gardens. This gives a comprehensive overview of their development and progress. The gardens began in the Spring and Autumn periods of the Zhou dynasty, long before China was unified in 221 BC. By the time of the Wei, Jin and the North and South dynasties, temples and private families were creating different kinds of gardens. In the Song and Yuan dynasties, piled up rocks became the rage, in the Ming and Qing eras garden pavilions flourished.

The third hall introduces the contours and styles of Suzhou's ancient gardens as they are today, as well as the international influence of these gardens.

The fourth introduces garden construction. This reflects the many-layered approach of Suzhou's gardens the layering of mountains, water, buildings, flowers,
trees. All are blended together to form the four great traits of a garden. Traditional artistic constraints are used to create both poetic meaning and visual results.

The main displays in this museum are models that show arrangements of gardens, especially those that no longer exist. There are twenty-four such displays, including Suzhou-style gardens built abroad and other famous gardens of the South. Zhuozheng Garden is an example of gardens within the museum; it uses miniature mountains and rock crags to create its illusions. A number of other gardens use water as their main component. Both the gardens themselves and the museum are well worth visiting.

Address: Jiangsu Province, Suzhou City, Jingde Road, #274
Telephone: 86-512-65224929
Fax: 86-512-65235984
Official Website:

More Museums in Jiangsu Province

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